Japan issues fresh rain disaster warnings as toll hits 54The rains have loosened the ground, causing houses to collapseKUMAMOTO (JAPAN) - Japan issued fresh landslide and flooding warnings Wednesday as torrential rain moved over the centre of the country and the death toll from days of downpours rose to 54. The weather front is now moving north, and on Wednesday morning the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued its highest level warning for Gifu and Nagano prefectures in central Japan. The toll in the disaster has risen steadily as rescue workers discover new casualties. The government's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said at least 54 people had died, with four more feared dead and 14 others missing. "It is too late to wait to evacuate until special warnings are issued," a JMA official said on Wednesday morning.
July 08, 2020 00:56 UTC
China opens new Hong Kong security agency headquartersGuests drive past barriers near the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after its official inaugurationHONG KONG - China on Wednesday opened a new office for its security agents to operate openly in Hong Kong for the first time under a tough new law, transforming a hotel into the force's headquarters. "The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was inaugurated here on Wednesday morning," China's official Xinhua news agency said. A plaque bearing the security agency's name was unveiled early Wednesday in front of Hong Kong government and police officials, an AFP reporter on the scene said. Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong last week targeting acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion. Among the many precedent-breaking provisions the law contains is authorisation for China's security apparatus to work openly inside Hong Kong, with powers to investigate and prosecute national security crimes.
July 08, 2020 00:22 UTC
The performance will reflect how the overconsumption of energy and natural resources affects both the environment and humans. (Photo: facebook.com/fullfattheatre)Here's a way to get people to realise the relationship between humans and energy. Directed by Nophand Boonyai, this new immersive theatre features nine performers who will show why alternative energy is now a necessary solution. The show is part of the "Jaras: Creative Lights" project which has brought activities about alternative energy in the form of various art engagements to Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. The project is funded by the Power Development Fund, Office of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
July 08, 2020 00:11 UTC
Legal kratom edges closerOfficials are cutting kratom trees in Kapong district of Phangnga in March. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)Proposed legislation that would remove kratom from the list of narcotics has taken a step closer to being tabled before parliament, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said on Tuesday. The cabinet approved in principle to remove kratom from the drugs list in March. The warning came in response to a recent surge in drug cases involving kratom. The opinions gathered will be forwarded along with the regulations to the cabinet for approval, he said.
July 07, 2020 23:49 UTC
I painted weeds, grass flowers and landscapes that I had seen," she said. This time, the collection reveals how she looks at weeds and grass flowers through her own painting "language" and techniques. "Many people think grass flowers are sturdy and difficult to get rid of but I actually think they aren't difficult to kill. However, the artist hopes that her work may encourage villagers to see the hidden beauty of grass flowers. I explain to them so they can realise the natural aesthetics of grass flowers.
July 07, 2020 23:37 UTC
Germany's Borkum Riffgrund 2 (BKR2) offshore wind farm in the North Sea. Gulf Energy Development acquired the farm in a deal worth more than B19bn. Gulf Energy Development has acquired Germany's Borkum Riffgrund 2 (BKR2) offshore wind farm, worth more than 19 billion baht, in a move to expand its renewable energy business in Asia and Europe this year. GIH acquired GIP's entire shareholding in Frankfurt-based Borkum Riffgrund 2 Investor Holding GmbH, entailing 50% of shares in Borkum Riffgrund 2 Offshore Wind Farm GmbH & Co Ohg, which co-operates the wind farm with the other shareholder, Orsted A/S. Orsted, which has 25 years of experience in the business, generates 6.8 gigawatts from offshore wind farms globally.
Confidence remains stuck in neutral until SeptemberInvestor confidence for the three months to September remains in neutral territory as concerns over second-quarter earnings at listed companies offset hopes of an economic recovery. The investor confidence index (ICI) in June rose by 4% to 101.19 from May's 96.93, according to the monthly survey by the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations (Fetco). An index below 80 points is considered bearish, 80-120 is neutral and over 120 is bullish. Foreign investor ICI climbed into bullish territory at 125, while the confidence gauge among proprietary traders rose into the neutral zone at 100. Confidence among local institutional investors dropped slightly but remained neutral at 100, while the retail investor ICI fell into bearish territory at 71.79.
Land sales fall 3.9% while investors awayMap Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong province is part of the EEC. Land sales at 61 industrial estates nationwide saw a year-on-year decline of 3.9% during the past nine months, mainly due to difficulties foreign investors face entering the country and an economic slowdown amid the pandemic, says the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT). Land sales in the period of October 2019 to June 2020 fell to 1,696.92 rai. "The IEAT is not concerned about the drop in land sales volume, because Thailand is taking advantage of investors relocating their manufacturing out of China," she said. The IEAT also joined Asia Clean Industrial Park to develop a new industrial estate to serve investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Why seat belt law fails to bring safetyPolice officers launch a buckle up campaign. The seat belt law is already 25 years old, yet the seat belt use rate remains very low. The dismal safety belt use rates are also evident in a recent study by the Thailand Development Research Institute to evaluate seat belt policy for traffic safety. While consistent information and campaigns are necessary for better seat belt awareness, the focus should shift to the back seat passengers -- passengers in taxis, vans, and minibuses. Why has the 25-year-old safety belt law failed to make a dent in the public consciousness?
Asian equities ready for return of foreign fundsAsian equities could benefit from a return of foreign fund inflows, but the stock market remains volatile depending on the economic recovery and the pandemic situation, says Principal Asset Management. Chief investment officer Win Promphaet said foreign capital inflows will return through exchange-traded funds (ETFs) investing in Chinese and other Asian equities. Foreign inflows were a factor driving up China's stock market during the past few months, Mr Win said. The US stock market also surged drastically after a series of monetary stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve, he said. Foreign investors have been net sellers of Thai equities during the first five months, with year-to-date foreign outflows totalling 219.2 billion baht as of July 3.
Malnutrition in poorer nations costs firms up to $850 bln: studyThe pandemic is increasing the number of people at risk of acute hungerPARIS - Hunger, poor nutrition and obesity not only present a health burden in developing countries but carry a hidden economic penalty that costs businesses up to $850 billion a year, according to a new report published Wednesday. "We show that the costs and risks are significant and that it is in the interests of businesses to take action." In developing nations where the prevalence of malnutrition is high, researchers estimated that the direct costs of productivity loss would total between $130 billion and $850 billion a year. According to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report, around one in nine people globally are hungry or undernourished, while one in three people are overweight or obese. The report stressed that action to tackle malnutrition is in businesses' best interests.
Peta's complaint about monkeys isn't totally nutsWhen I heard that coconut products from Thailand had been banned from supermarkets in London, as a result of a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), I wasn't surprised. Media reports say Peta claimed the monkeys had been "snatched from the wild and cruelly trained" to pick coconuts, like coconut-picking machines. The commerce ministry said it would invite foreign ambassadors to witness how monkeys had been raised and trained. He has seen the use of monkeys as coconut pickers since he was young and questioned if Peta's visits to eight coconut plantations represented the whole industry in Thailand. Mentioning this, I'm not saying all monkeys, and other animals, in Thailand are being treated well and fairly.
Take action on monkey useDenial alone won't help. To disprove the allegations of monkey abuse in Thailand's coconut business, the Commerce Ministry has no other option but to face up to the matter. The claims made by Peta have led to a boycott of Thailand's coconut products by Western retailers. In the United Kingdom, Waitrose, Ocado, Co-op and Boots have vowed to stop selling some coconut products from Thailand, the BBC reported. As for companies implicated in the campaign, they simply have to provide evidence that they don't use forced monkey labour as suggested by Peta.
Thailand, New Zealand in bubble talksThe Industry Ministry has discussed working with New Zealand on what it calls an "industry bubble" with the aim to share knowledge, technology and innovations for the agriculture sector in support of farmers from both nations. Like a travel bubble, which links countries with low risk of coronavirus infection, the industry bubble is also based on the selection of certain countries for a close business cooperation. "The Industry Ministry agrees to partner with New Zealand because it [New Zealand] is expert in processing agricultural products for export," he said. Mr Suriya came up with the industry bubble idea after a talk with New Zealand's ambassador to Thailand, Taha Macpherson, on joint cooperation in agriculture. New Zealand and Thailand have had a diplomatic relationship for 64 years, and Thailand ranks eighth in trade value with New Zealand.
Key official seeks to revoke VAT breakRemoving the value-added tax (VAT) exemption for goods of up to 1,500 baht per parcel and imported through the post is crucial to levelling the playing field for local vendors, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), says the Revenue Department. The VAT exemption is unfair to local SMEs because trade is now borderless and scrapping the privilege will help these small businesses avoid going under, said director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas. The Revenue Department wants to revoke the tax exemption but must defer to the Customs Department's mandate, he said. For example, the Revenue Department has pushed a draft e-service act that received cabinet approval. The Revenue Department's digital transformation is aimed at not only running working processes on the digital platform, but also speeding up and simplifying the process.